Tomato and Fennel Dal

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A comforting bowl of dal that cooks up beautifully in our Dutch Oven.

By Anita Jaisinghani
Sep 14, 2022
90 Minutes
4 Servings

Dal, or cooked lentils or beans, is the quintessential stew of India. There are dozens of lentil varieties from the yellow moong, to the orange masoor, to the hearty black urad. There’s no “right” way to prepare them either—most regions, and families within each region, have their own special preparation. Some versions of dal are soupy and light like a broth flavored with tamarind, tomato, or coconut. Others are thick and chunky like a stew, with caramelized onions, butter, and heavy cream.

This simple dal, courtesy of Chef Anita Jaisinghani of Pondicheri in Houston, uses yellow moong dal (split yellow mung lentils), which are quick to prepare and easy to digest. It makes a beautiful and filling meal in your Dutch Oven. Chef Jaisinghani calls for curry leaves and Kashmiri chile powder, both of which can be found at specialty spice stores or Indian markets.

Tomato and Fennel Dal

A comforting bowl of dal that cooks up beautifully in our Dutch Oven.

Anita Jaisinghani

90 Minutes
4 Servings
  • 1 ½ cups yellow moong dal (split yellow mung lentils)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup ghee (or olive oil), plus more for drizzling on top
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 10–12 fresh, frozen, or dried kari (curry) leaves, sliced
  • 1 large fennel bulb with fronds, bulb roughly chopped and fronds set aside
  • 1 teaspoon red chile powder, such as Kashmiri chile powder
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved if large
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • Rice or naan, for serving (optional)

    Rinse the moong lentils 2–3 times in a colander, then soak in 4 cups water for 1–4 hours. Add the soaked lentils to a Dutch Oven and bring to a boil. If any scum rises to the top, remove with a skimmer or a spoon and discard. Reduce heat to medium-low and add turmeric and salt. Cover and simmer for 10–15 minutes. Add additional water if needed to keep the lentils submerged.


    Meanwhile, heat a Stainless Clad Frying Pan over high and add the ghee. When it’s shimmering but not yet smoking, add the cumin seeds and kari leaves, and fry for 1–2 seconds.


    Immediately add the fennel and cook over high until slightly wilted, 3–4 minutes. Add the red chile powder and tomatoes and cook until tomatoes have softened, 3–4 minutes more.


    Scrape the tomato mixture into the Dutch Oven with the lentils and continue cooking until the whole mixture has come together, about 2 minutes. There should not be any water separating from the lentils.


    Just before serving, add the minced ginger, and more ghee, if desired. Top with reserved fennel fronds and serve with rice or naan, if desired.